What is Museums Showoff?

“Great night out, brilliant speakers, fantastic supportive atmosphere”

Museums Showoff is a cabaret-style night for everyone interested in museums, libraries and archives. It’s the place to share ideas, get insights and make new connections, in a fun and informal setting.

Each night 8 people have 9 minutes to tell the audience about anything to do with museums and heritage, delivered in any format they like – talks, song, dance, poetry, plays or anything else! The show is in two 40-minute halves, so there’s plenty of time to chat and exchange ideas in the interval or after the show.

Discover the impact we’ve had on our audience and performers. Browse line-ups from our latest shows, or shows in previous years, to get an idea of the huge variety of performers and sets.

Who is it for?

Anyone who is interested in museums, libraries and archives, whether they work in one, volunteer or visit. We want to hear a wide a range of voices. We are particularly keen to hear about less well-known aspects of museums and heritage, for example hidden collections, diverse histories and aspects of work that often go unseen. Previous performers have included visitors, volunteers, curators, security staff, directors, funders, retail folk, librarians, archivists, operations managers, conservators and many more! Browse through the line-ups of our recent and past events to see who’s taken part and what they’ve talked about.

Why do you have a code of conduct?

Museums Showoff strives to produce events where everyone feels welcome and has a positive experience. We want people to be able to relax, enjoy themselves and get the most from our events. Since all participants contribute to the atmosphere of an event, it requires all participants to create a safe, welcoming environment. It is not enough to say “be nice to people”, so we have a Code of Conduct which outlines the behaviours that are unacceptable at our events, how to report harassment, and the sanctions we may take. Everyone participating in one of our events is required to agree to the Code of Conduct.

How can I take part?

Just sign up when we make a call for people to take part – usually the day after each show. Sign up is on a first come, first served basis. You will need to enter your name and email address, and write a comment telling us what your set will be about. We will contact you four weeks before the show to ask for set details. To make sure you don’t miss a call, sign up for email notifications or follow us on Twitter.

Why are there only 4 slots on the sign up sheet?

We invite the other four acts. This enables us to ask people who haven’t heard of us, or might not think they have something interesting to say, and helps us get as wide a range of voices as possible.

How are you funded?

Museums Showoff receives no funding at all! Our only income is from ticket sales, which goes towards our costs and paying the team.

What impact does Museums Showoff have?

Museums Showoff is more than a fun and informative night out. We offer a unique opportunity for people who might not otherwise meet to share, listen, and discuss ideas. Our shows have had a huge impact on performers and audience, ranging from boosting confidence and raising awareness of places and issues, to finding new jobs and forming new heritage companies. Here are some comments from our audience and performers:

“As a museum volunteer Museums Showoff gave me an opportunity to push myself as a public speaker. When I had a really important job interview they asked about my experience of public speaking. When I mentioned I had done Museums Showoff they were seriously impressed, I think it helped me get the job!”

— Claire Madge. founder, Autism in Museums

“I often go away with two or three ideas or changed points of view that improve my practice.”

— Audience survey respondent

“I’ve learned so much about the way in which museums really work.”

— Audience survey respondent

“Museum Showoff gave me the perfect platform to talk about my work in 3D at the British Museum. I was new to the museum sector at the time and had little opportunity to reach like minded colleagues within the institution so it was a highly valuable opportunity to share my ideas in front of my peers. Even better than that, my set at Museum Showoff introduced me to George Oates (who was in the audience) and with whom I went on to co-found Museum in a Box. Simply put if there was no Museum Showoff I doubt Museum in a Box would have been founded at all!”

– Tom Flynn. Co-founder Museum in a Box and cultural heritage lead, Sketch Fab

“I’ve just started managing a team. I’m going to suggest my team attends Museums Showoff as often as possible to help them learn more about the sector and expand their networks.”

— Audience survey respondent

“Museums Showoff was the gateway to gaining the experience that has been essential to my career progression. At the first Showoff I attended, I heard a talk from the Chair of the London Museums Group, who was recruiting board members. Through joining the LMG I gained huge amounts of experience that was not possible to get in my then-job, as well as making contacts that helped me to develop and grow in other areas.”

— Joe Sullivan, partnerships & community manager, NHM

It’s given me knowledge of museums and projects I’d not heard of before”

— Audience survey respondent

“Museums Showoff is one of the most innovative and enjoyable initiatives in the museums and heritage sector.”

— Bernard Donoghue, director, The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, Mayor of London’s Ambassador for Cultural Tourism

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